Patricia Montague, CAE, CEO, School Nutrition Association, answers questions from SNA member Jean Ronnei.
Ronnei: SNA has a diverse membership, from directors running multimillion-dollar operations to front-line staff. What challenges and opportunities does this present?
Montague: The biggest challenge is providing different services to the various segments on a limited budget. It is also an opportunity to identify real ways we can help our various segments. The key is identifying one or two critical services for each segment and doing a great job in delivering them.
How is the SNA board different from other boards, and how does that play into how you lead?
The biggest difference with SNA's board is the passion for what they do. It is more than just a job or a profession. It's more of a mission to make a difference in the lives of children by nourishing them every school day so they can learn and succeed. In terms of how I lead, it is with great respect and admiration for what they do day in and day out, with little recognition for their hard work on very tight budgets and new challenges facing them every day.
What is your favorite part of your job?
One of the things I love about working at an association is talking with and learning from members. I believe that it is critical to speak with all members, from directors who run programs in large school districts to cafeteria managers and cooks. The difference now, compared with before I was CEO, is that I am leading the development and implementation of the strategic plan in order to enhance school nutrition programs across this country.